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Feral and stray cats

Feral and stray cats

Updated 3 July 2019 12:33pm

Why are feral and stray cats a problem?

Feral and stray cats are a major threat to native species, and can spread parasites and disease. They can:

  • Kill native birds and their eggs, native lizards, fish, frogs and large invertebrates
  • Cause a nuisance by spraying and defecating, scavenging rubbish
  • Fight and injure, or mate with, domestic cats
  • Are carriers of Bovine Tb and a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis

Brown Kiwis, Banded Dotterels and Saddlebacks are some of the species that need protection from feral and stray cats. To protect these and other native species we provide advice and undertake feral cat control in Key Native Ecosystem areas and work with local bodies. 

What to do if you see a feral or stray cat

A cat that appears to be feral or stray may in fact be missing from its home. Cats wander long distances, particularly if frightened by something or confused by injury or illness.

If you suspect a cat is someone’s pet:

  • Ask around to check if anyone knows who the cat belongs to
  • Contact the SPCA for advice and help - see the SPCA's Found an animal guide 
  • Use the Lost Pets website to post a found cat notice or view lost cat listings free of charge.

Do not touch, pick up, feed or provide shelter to a feral or stray cat. They can be aggressive and can spread disease. See a doctor if you have been scratched or bitten by a feral or stray cat.

For advice on feral or stray cats in your area, contact:

Humane approach to feral and stray cat control

In areas where domestic cats are present, specially designed cages are used to capture cats safely and alive.

If a domestic cat with a microchip is caught by mistake then it can be released or returned to its owner.

All live capture traps must be checked daily within 12 hours after sunrise. Find out more about Animal Welfare requirements for live trapping

More information

Caring for cats and cat owner requirements in Wellington City 

New Zealand National Cat Management Strategy Discussion Paper 2017

Feral and Stray Cats: Monitoring and control, A preliminary guideline towards good practice

Research by NIWA on the affect of toxoplasmosis on Maui and Hectors dolphins